Attorney denies Bezos’ claims
Enquirer did not use blackmail or extortion, he says
WASHINGTON — The National Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an attorney for the head of the tabloid’s parent company said Sunday.
Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said Sunday a “reliable source” well-known to Bezos and his mistress provided the story about the billionaire’s extramarital affair.
Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, has said AMI threatened to publish the explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges with his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos’ investigators have suggested the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was driven by dirty politics, and the high-profile clash has pitted the world’s richest man against the leader of America’s best-known tabloid, who is a strong backer of President Donald Trump.
Federal prosecutors are looking at whether the Enquirer violated a cooperation and nonprosecution agreement that spared the gossip sheet from charges for paying hush money to a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.
Asked during an interview with ABC’S “This Week” whether he was concerned the Bezos matter could jeopardize the noncooperation agreement, Abramowitz said: “Absolutely not.”
Abramowitz defended the tabloid’s handling of the situation as part of a standard legal negotiation.
“I think both Bezos and AMI had interests in resolving their interests,” Abramowitz said.
Bezos’ affair became public when the Enquirer published story on Jan. 9 about his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, who is also married. Bezos then hired a team of private investigators to find out how the tabloid got the texts and photos the two exchanged.
Bezos’ personal investigators, led by his security consultant Gavin de Becker, have focused on Sanchez’s brother, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Michael Sanchez is his sister’s manager, a Trump supporter and an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page.
Abramowitz would not comment when asked whether Michael Sanchez was the Enquirer’s source.
Michael Sanchez has declined to speak with AP on the record.
Investigators working for Bezos have identified who they believe provided text messages to the Enquirer, the person familiar with the matter told the AP on Sunday. Bezos’ investigators concluded their probe into the text message leak and turned over the results to attorney Richard Ben-veniste for review and possible referral to law enforcement, the person said.